3rdJohn8 friend, Dr. Bob Kellemen (of RPM Ministries), has a new book out: God’s Healing for Life’s Losses: How to Find Hope When You’re Hurting.
Dr. Kellemen writes . . .
You’re tired of quick quips (“Just trust God”) and false hopes (“Time heals all wounds”). You’re ready for real and raw, honest and hopeful conversation about suffering, loss, and grief—from a Christian perspective. You’re longing for real answers, for real people, with real struggles. You’ve come to the right place. When life’s losses invade your world, learn how to face suffering face-to-face with God.
This is the last of the Q & A with Dr. Kellemen. This interview serves as a very helpful precursor and introduction to this book. On Monday (8/9), I will offer my book review. In the meantime, these interviews in themselves serve as a help resource for someone battling through grief. I suggest you bookmark them and keep them, along with book, in a handy place, as they will give you a helpful introduction that can be used in leading someone through loss.
If you have recently suffered through the loss of someone close to you, or know someone who has, you will want to hear his honest, yet comforting words. In the interview, Dr. Kellemen responds to several questions related to the subject of suffering, but most importantly, how one can find hope even in the midst of great pain.
I encourage you to take the time to read his responses, and the book, it will be well worth your time.
Also, if you missed them, you can read the previous interviews by scrolling backwards in the 3rdJohn8 blog.
Today's questions and responses:
21. In your sixth stage, you contrast deadening pain with what you call “wailing.” That doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. What does it involve and how does it help us to find hope when we’re hurting?
When we cry out to God, He promises His comfort. However, He does not promise “quick answers.” He is a “time God.” He does not come before time. He does not come after time. He comes at just the right time. And . . . He comes in His way for His glory and our good. So, when His timing and our timing are light years apart; we wait. We resist the temptation to regroup and to fix things on our own. But let’s be honest, that brings more pain. We’re then tempted to deaden the pain we feel as we wait for God’s healing hope. That’s why in “stage” six of the grieving and growth process we must move from deadening our pain to wailing: groaning with hope.
It is through wailing that we stay alive to life even when it tries to crush us to death. By wailing, I don’t mean weeping as in the candor, complaint, or cry of sustaining, though weeping often accompanies wailing. Wailing is longing fervently for heaven and living passionately for God and others while still on earth. Paul personifies wailing in Philippians 1:23-25. “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of your for your progress and joy in the faith.” Paul neither deadens his longing for heaven nor minimizes his calling on earth. Wailing is longing, hungering, thirsting, and wanting what is legitimate, what is promised, but what we do not have. It is grieving the “not yet” without giving up on the “now.”
And what’s the result? Weak, mournful surviving? No way! The result is thriving. In Romans 8:28-39, Paul insists that even in the midst of trouble, hardship, persecution, and suffering, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. He teaches that in all our suffering we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us so. “More than conquerors” comes from the Greek word nikao from which we gain our word “Nike”—victors, winners, Olympic champions. Wailing empowers us to long ardently for heaven and to live victoriously on earth. Wailing moves us from victims to victors in Christ.
22. In your seventh stage, you move with your readers from despair to weaving in God’s truth. How does seeing life from God’s perspective bring God’s healing to life’s losses?
If we attempt to handle our loss without Christ, then we despair. We doubt. We give up any hope of ever making life work, of ever figuring out the mystery of life, or of ever completing the puzzle. We trudge on in doubt, despair, and darkness. Despair is the negative of hope. That’s the world’s typical response. It is not God’s healing path. In God’s growth voyage we move from regrouping to waiting (stage five), from deadening to wailing (stage six), and from despairing to weaving (stage seven)—perceiving with grace.
Biblical weaving is entrusting myself to God’s larger purposes, good plans, and eternal perspective. I see life with spiritual eyes instead of eyeballs only. I look at suffering, not with rose colored glasses, but with faith eyes, with Cross-eyes, with 20/20 spiritual vision.
Weaving involves grace math that teaches us that present suffering plus God’s character equals future glory. The equation we use is the Divine perspective. From a Divine faith perspective on life, we erect a platform to respond to suffering. How we view life makes all the difference in how we respond to life’s losses. Martin Luther understood this. “The Holy Spirit knows that a thing only has such value and meaning to a man as he assigns it in his thoughts.” Luther beautifully portrays the God-perspective that prompts healing. “If only a man could see his God in such a light of love . . . how happy, how calm, how safe he would be! He would then truly have a God from whom he would know with certainty that all his fortunes—whatever they might be—had come to him and were still coming to him under the guidance of God’s most gracious will.”
As you respond to your loss, are you struggling to believe that God has a good heart? Look to the Cross. The Cross forever settles all questions about God’s heart for us. The Christ of the Cross is the only One who makes sense of life when suffering bombards us.
23. In your eighth and final stage, you move your readers to worshipping God. You make the profound point that the ultimate goal of healing is finding God even if we don’t find relief. Tell us more about that.
Now we’re ready to map God’s grieving and growth process one final time. Your path toward God during suffering also begins with the casket of loss. Finding your self in that casket, you’ve been waiting on God, wailing out to God, and weaving together His good plans from His good heart. Rather than turning to false lovers who tame your soul, you now turn to your untamed God who captures your soul. You worship God. In the midst of life’s losses, yes you can choose worship—engaging God with love, which leads to ministry—engaging others with God’s love.
“Worship” is such a common word. But what is worship really? Specifically, in the midst of grief, what does worship look like? Let’s start with some subtle contrasts. In crying, you cry out for God’s help. In worship, you cry out for God. In comfort, you receive God’s strength. In worship, you receive God. In wailing, you long for heaven because you’re tired of earth. In worship, you long for God because you miss Him. In weaving, you glimpse God’s perspective. In worship, you glimpse the face of God. So what is worship in the context of suffering? Worship is wanting God more than wanting relief. Worship is finding God even when you don’t find answers. Worship is walking with God in the dark and having Him as the light of your soul.
The Bible consistently invites us to worship God in the midst of suffering. Worship as the end result of suffering has always been the testimony of God’s people. Asaph, reflecting on his suffering, concludes, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25). Suffering’s ultimate goal is worship: exalting and enjoying God as our Spring of Living Water—our only satisfaction and our greatest joy.